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The Personal Histories


Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride




After Dad became the County Sheriff in 1916, we lived in Safford for almost two years. I don’t recall any exceptional fun happenings while we were there. However, one peculiar event is worth a few words. A neighbor, eight-year-old Grace Wilson, my age, caught me in a most embarrassing situation. In the bathroom,  just out of the tub I had dried myself off and hung up the towel. I turned, and as I faced the door, it burst open and in strode Grace. Frozen in my tracks, I blurted out, “Grace, you get out of here!” She didn’t make a move as she stared me in the eye and asked, “Where’s Ruth?” Desperately, I answered, “I don’t know, but you get out of here!” Angry now, as she kept on standing there looking at me as though I weren’t even naked, I finally was forced to move forward, grab her, turn her around and push her out the door that I furiously slammed behind her. (This rental house had the marvelous luxury of a porcelain bathtub with running cold water. Mother heated a large tea kettle to boiling and added it to warm the bath water. This was luxury compared to the number-3 washtub in Glenbar.)


I always had the suspicion that my mother favored my brother Orlando, two years older than I.  It seemed she gave him extra attention and privileges that I didn't get. Also, it seemed that in her eyes he could do no wrong.


My friend, Ensley Durphey, owned a beautiful pocket knife that I really admired; and Ensley knew it. A knock came on the door one day, and I opened it to find Ensley standing there. He told me he wanted to talk to my mother. I let him in, and mother lead him into the kitchen to talk. He told her that while he visited with Orlando and me, playing in the back yard he'd laid his pocket knife down, and it had mysteriously disappeared. He believed one of us had stolen it.


Mother questioned me first and asked if I had taken it. I told her I hadn't, but that Orlando had been out back with us too. Ensley went home without his pocket knife, and I became the prime suspect of the theft and, now, of a lie to boot.  I could feel that mother just plain believed that "her Orlando" would never do such a thing. A couple of hours later I walked into the kitchen. Orlando sat over on the wood box, while Mother at the table kept busy with her chores. As I passed by Orlando, the pocket knife suddenly clattered to the floor. Without a moment's hesitation, Orlando said, "There's Ensley's pocket knife Mother, it just dropped out of Darvil's pocket." I defended myself against his blatant lie, while he just sat there and said nothing. I'm not sure if Mother ever did believe me. But, Ensley did get his knife back, though I was the only one who knew the thief.


One of our several excursions included a tour of the Holy Land. (See Hubba-Hubba Holiday, 1979 a 65 page story of the fabulous trip.) Jon and DeNell, their girls, Kim and Sherrie, plus DeNell’s parents were also part of the 48 in our group. We stayed a night in a hotel at the edge of the Dead Sea in Israel where swimming at least once in that highly saline solution was a must. 


The water level had never subsided so low in its history. Quantities of water were being used to extract important minerals, and as the level dropped it exposed previously unknown pillars of salt. They extended from the sea's bottom, and some were up above the water line just a couple of feet to several feet. One of them, not far from the shore, lured me to it for a photograph. The photographer, camera in hand, waited as I swam to it. The water so saturated with salts was heavier than any I'd ever experienced; buoying me up, it made the swimming easy.


I reached the column of salt, and with a mighty heave I hoisted myself up and out of the water onto the column. The heavy water dragged the bathing suit off and down almost to my knees. I'd forgotten the looseness of the suit’s elastic. With the pale glimmer of my tanless behind, I "mooned" all who watched from the shore.


Sometime before the beginning of the first or second year of my tenure as the Principal of the Solmonville Elementary School, I listened to the appeal of an old Thatcher boyhood pal of mine. At the time, he taught in Franklin just north of Duncan, in a two room schoolhouse. The community had tired of him, and he had tired of the community and its people. He wanted out of there so bad that he could taste it in his teeth. Through influence with the School Board, I hired him to teach in our school.


The move allowed him to escape an uncomfortable situation. It also gave him a great increase in salary. It placed him in position for progress, and it brought him back to the Gila Valley: his home country among old friends where he'd been raised. He taught under me for about six years. A better than average teacher, I had no complaints.


More than a year prior to the time we moved from Solomonville; out of jealousy, he slowly grew more critical of all that I did, and his anger was fueled when he, mistakenly imagined, I had treated some of the other teachers with partiality. With the help of his wife, he began to execute an undermining program to discredit me. They cleverly influenced some on the School Board, certain teachers and a few influential people of the community. They distorted, as much as they could, things I would say and do to appear unwise and frivolous.  In reality, he coveted the principalship for himself, and believed that if he could rid the school of me he would be hired as the principal. The school bus driver, several teachers and others had warned me about his and his wife's cunning strategy.


Jo and I, after The Second World War had commenced, had discussed moving to California for obvious financial advantages. Tired too, of the job in Solomonville, and ready for something new, we made the decision to move. I gave my notice of resignation. Of course, this was what my friend-turned-enemy hoped somehow he could bring about through his and his wife's divisiveness. But, all of their evil ploys had been in vain, because natural circumstances coupled with our own dreams would whisk us away to a better and happier life anyway.


As time passed, both of us had retired. Then, after he'd suffered two heart attacks; his long-tortured conscience finally drove him to try, mightily, to mend the fence and narrow the rift between us that he and his wife had caused many years ago. He took the initial step, and I readily let him know that I had long since put to rest all ill feelings toward him. I told him that the move from the little community had opened much opportunity that brought our family many great blessings. I let him know that if anything, I would be feeling gratitude towards him, if, he and his wife's tactics had in fact forced the move, which wasn't the case. I informed him that our decision to move to California opened the way for us to experience much increased success in employment and successful, businesses ownership. I let him know that without the move, among other things, I would never have had the great experience of eventually being elected to the Arizona State Senate.


During every Christmas Season and a couple of times in between, I took the initiative and made it a practice to call him. Our visits over the telephone, I'm sure, helped to relieve a conscience and restore our friendship. We continued these visits until his death.

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